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Brand Strategy For Startups

When Startups Should Invest In Branding

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When Startups Should Invest In Branding

We regularly answer questions from marketers on Branding Strategy Insider. Today we hear from Debbie, an entrepreneur in Brisbane, Australia who writes…

“We’re a B2C startup looking to make an impact in our national, and potentially regional, markets. We know we need a strong brand but with so many things to think about, how do we responsibly allocate our resources knowing that every dollar we spend on our brand means one less dollar we can spend on anything else?”

Great question Debbie. This is something we’re asked often. Many entrepreneurs are reluctant to invest in their brand in the early days of their companies because they believe there are more important things to spend their money on.

There are some things you need to do before you work on your brand. You do need a strong and clear business plan based around a distinctive and desirable product. You probably need to have protected your IP or at least sought advice on that. You absolutely need to know the dynamics of the market and the intensity and strengths of your competition and to believe that you bring something new to that market. You need to have your funding secured. Once you know those things, your marketing plan will enable you to decide who you’re trying to reach, the level of margin you’re looking for and the types of distributors you should be seeking.

Once you’ve determined these things, you’re ready to allocate resources to your startup brand.

The strength of a strong brand strategy, particularly in startup mode, is that it helps you focus. People tell us time and again that their brand strategy helps make their product feel real. It provides substance. It turns an idea into something that can be discussed objectively and almost in the third person. It enables you to put enough distance between yourself and what you’re selling to make better decisions that are informed by what customers want and need, rather than what you think or hope they want or need.

The most important thing is not to rush this process. You need to make sure that you invest the time to really understand what makes your brand different and why it will attract the margins you are looking for. These are hard questions. Don’t just settle for any answer. Keep asking until you have amazing answers.

Once you understand your brand, you should look to engage a designer to creatively interpret your ideas into a brand identity system that you can use across your business. Again, don’t cut corners here. Work with someone who gets what you’re about and who will take the time to express your brand clearly and powerfully. In today’s highly visual world, so many companies miss the opportunity to stand out and stand apart from their competitors through strong visual language. Evaluate the ideas you get back with this criteria: Do they capture the spirit of what you’re about? Do they stand out from everyone else (particularly since you’re a B2C brand and therefore likely to be alongside competing products on a shelf)? Do consumers get an immediate sense of what you’re about – and does that carry through in all the places that your brand is seen, from packaging to online to social media?

Finally, make sure you allocate enough budget to do your brand justice. Don’t spread your brand and marketing dollars too thin. It’s better to do a small number of things well than to try and do a lot of things and compromise. There is no magic formula for how much money you should spend on doing this. But you’ve said you’re in B2C, and in those markets brand is an important part of your go-to-market strategy. I suggest you work some numbers that explain what you expect to spend on your brand and marketing, what you are looking to get back by way of margin (ROI), then talk them through with your advisors.

All the best with your venture Debbie.

Do you have a question related to branding? Just Ask The Blake Project

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Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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2 Comments

Eric Wedemeyer on September 03rd, 2015 said

Good advice. I would add that before getting too deep into marketing and communications, a start-up would do well to think about how it will implement the brand internally, in terms of staff engagement and also aligning processes and operations with the brand.

markdisomma
Twitter: markdisomma
on September 03rd, 2015 said

Well said Eric. Absolutely agree.

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